Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Avid are researching ways to making their products work with 3D footage. I would characterise the kind of footage they mean as being ‘2.5D’ – two cameras shoot simultaneously from slightly different positions to simulate human stereoscopic vision.
The article refers to the ‘Over and under’ 3D technique. In the days of film, that meant that each frame of celluloid had two slightly different images – anamorphically squeezed so one appeared above the other. These days it probably means that each moment in time is represented by two pictures in a single file, i.e. at 01:04:25:16 in the media file there are two images – one for the left eye, one for the right.
Avid’s current plan is for editors to edit away in 2D – only displaying what one of the two ‘eyes’ would see in the scene. Every once in a while, they could choose a special command that lets them review the cut in 3D.
Editing 3D will only become mainstream once the price of the camera systems come down. The Fusion system uses two Sony F950s (so that’s over $230,000 just for the cameras). There is a system that 21st Century 3D have developed, but it isn’t for sale. They’re going the Panavision way and only making their technology available via hire – with mandatory employment of their staff to go along with the kit. They’ve taken a couple of Panasonic HVX100 SD cameras, synced them together, added 4:4:4 direct to storage recording and combined them in one 24lb package:
Funnily enough, they also require that they are in on the editing of your production too. From their FAQ:
…there is more to the editing process than just matching all your cuts. It is also important to note that our 3DVX3 camera system records RAW CCD data that must be converted by 21st Century 3D in order to be edited in standard NLE software. 21st Century 3D does work with our clients who want to edit their own videos by providing 2D window dubs that you can edit. Send us your Final Cut Pro project file, an EDL or the window dub edit and we will conform your 3D show.
Can someone from 21st Century 3D come to my office and show me how to edit 3D videos?
Unfortunately no. 21st Century 3D utilizes techniques that are in some cases proprietary and have been developed over the course of years.
I suppose you could do it with multicam mode when editing, place the sequence in a 48p sequence to view in 3D using a fxplug scripted plug-in.
I’m surprised that companies such as 21st Century 3D think that it is possible to keep post-production secrets. I doesn’t sound like too much of a challenge to me, but maybe I haven’t thought it through. I wonder if the aesthetics of editing 3D can also be kept secret too. People thought that editing with the Cinemascope 1:2.35 required a new visual language.
21st Century 3D believe that the best results come from having a large depth of field. They want to give the audience the choice of what to focus on. I think that cinematographers and editors have spent the last 100 years using depth of field and focus to direct the audience’s view. We should have a good idea of which part of the frame they are looking at. That determines the timing of the next shot – we need to know how long it takes for the audience to notice the edit and then search the new shot to find the most interesting thing to look at before we let new information be conveyed (a person’s expression changes, a bomb starts ticking). If we still can use framing, composition, sound, a shallow depth of field and focus to direct the audience’s eyes, we may need to take account of how much longer it takes for people to find what we want them to look at if they are looking at 3D footage.
What else determines how we’ll be editing 3D footage?